Case Study: Oxford City Council
How Oxford Council is using identity document scanning to protect against fraud
Oxford City Council employs around 1,300 people and helps to provide a broad range of services, including benefits, housing services, and licensing for approximately 152,0000 residents.
They also support the 110,000 people who work in Oxford and 9.5 million people who visit the city every year.
The Council’s Corporate Investigation team, led by Scott Warner, is responsible for the detection and prevention of fraud across all services, with a particular focus on the high-risk areas of Housing, Business Rates and Council Tax.
TrustID supports the team at Oxford City Council with an efficient and robust document validation process to support checks across the Council, from employees to benefits claimants to tenants. Electronic scanning has helped the Council staff to identify several suspicious documents and prevent fraudulent housing and benefits claims.
Two main concerns
Oxford City Council needs to validate documents provided by members of the public to prove their identity (passport, visa, driving licence) before giving them access to Council services.
The previous system for validating these documents required council staff to be trained to access an online reference database to cross-check and interpret the validity of documents against reference images.
The team at Oxford were primarily concerned about:
– the extensive training required (repeated when new employees joined the Council)
– the system heavily relied on human interpretation which was not guaranteed to be accurate.
Oxford City Council wanted an electronic document validation system to support identity checking for customers and employees as part of Right to Work compliance.
Having evaluated the options in other councils, Corporate Investigations Manager, Scott Warner, chose to install 5 Scanners purchased from TrustID (our UK partners) in June 2014.
He was confident that the scanners would be easy to use, offer an additional level of validation, reduce the administrative pressure on frontline staff and greatly reduce the need for training.
Since introducing the scanners, the Council has processed over 10,000 document scans across their different offices and departments.
The main scanner located at the front desk in the central Oxford offices is the machine which sees the heaviest use as staff validate passports, residence permits and other documents for anyone who wishes to access public services.
Other scanners are installed at satellite council offices and together with a ‘mobile solution’, allows the Corporate Investigation team to conduct scans remotely during offsite investigations or to support residents who struggle to come to a council office.
Those documents which the system flags as potentially suspicious are referred to Scott and his team who can review the documents and, if necessary, forward them to the team at TrustID for further analysis.
The Oxford City Council team now manage an efficient and robust document validation process, with minimal training required.
As Scott Warner explains, “Once an officer has been trained in how to use the scanner, which is, at most, a 30-minute session, they can then rely on the technology to spot any instances of questionable documents.”
The electronic scanning process has helped the Council to identify suspicious documents. Oxford City Council can directly attribute at least £36,000 of savings to the TrustID scanning solution. The system enabled them to prevent two applications for housing to the Council that used fraudulent identity documents.
Today, the system continues to support document validation across the Council, from employees to tenants. Oxford City Council now has a robust and future-proof system which doesn’t require staff to attend extensive training sessions and supports them in the fight against fraudulent attempts to claim public services.
In the future, the Council are considering how they can use the scanning solution to support the community further, perhaps offering validation services to local small businesses and landlords to help them comply with government legislation.
Scott Warner and his team are confident that they now have the necessary safeguards in place to ensure that they are delivering services to those people who have proved that they are who they say they are.
“I’d personally recommend TrustID scanners to other organisations on the basis that they provide a ‘no-doubt’ solution to document authentication.”
Scott Warner, Corporate Investigations Manager Oxford City Council
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